Between Friends - Blount County Friends of the Library Newsletter - DECEMBER 2015

Blount County Friends of the Library Newsletter - December 2015

Friends’ December RaRa Schlitt Art Auction
to Benefit the Library’s Children’s Department

The Friends of the Library have been most successful in raising money through the quarterly book sales and membership dues. Recently the board has appointed part of the board to form a team to develop new methods both to raise money and encourage people to join the Friends group.

This December, the funders, along with the encouragement and help of the Children’s staff, will hold a silent auction. RaRa Schlitt, a renowned Maryville folk art artist, and Lisa Misosky, one of the new team of dreamers, wanted to make money for the children of Blount County and RaRa decided to donate some of her amazing art works for this project. Lisa suggested the silent auction and all the money raised will go to the library children’s department.

The art work is exhibited in the children’s department of the library. A Folder on the children’s library desk contains all the auction sheets. Please come in and check out this brilliant array of what can only be called intelligently beautiful art because the canvases also have quotes on them from many different writers such as TS Eliot and Ray Bradbury. Successful bidders will be notified after the auction closes at noon on Wednesday, December 23, 2015. 

What a really good Christmas present this can be for our Children’s Department as well as the art beneficiaries. Please remember if you see RaRa Schlitt to thank her as well.

LEGO Robotics Program

by Chelsea Tarwater, Childrens' Department

Recently, thanks to generous funding by the Friends of the Library, the Youth Services Department has started a new and innovative Lego Robotics program. This program was a natural progression for us, considering the popularity of two of our similar weekly programs, Lego Club, which features interactive Lego building challenges, and STEAMkids, which features fun experiments and projects that tie in critical STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) topics for elementary-aged kids.

We’re passionate in our department about introducing kids to opportunities like these programs that combine education, creativity, and fun—and Lego Robotics is a great addition to this line-up! As Lego puts it themselves, it is “a hands-on, minds-on approach” to learning, giving our young patrons the chance to try their hand at basic programming and coding and then see that work in action on a real, functioning Lego robot that they build themselves.

Currently, there are two programs of Lego Robotics running through December, one for kids using Lego WeDos and one for teens using Lego Mindstorms. There’s been a lot of interest in both of these programs, with an average of 24 kids and 8 teens attending after registering for the limited spots available. Based on this, we anticipate that the interest will only grow when we start a new session in February!

Using LEGOs-1  Using LEGOs-2

The kids’ Lego Robotics program has been focused on the concepts of physical science and simple machines, while kids develop specific skills like coding logic and creative problem solving. The teen program has been similarly focused on coding logic, with higher order problem solving and an emphasis on computer science. Andrew Marton, an awesome Friends volunteer, has been instrumental in designing these classes. We’re so grateful to have the support of the Friends on all fronts to help us create and implement important programs like these.

On top of being fun and educational, Lego Robotics is also a great introduction to skills that kids can grow into and develop as they get older. This could lead to them utilizing the basics they got at the library to build on during their formal education and might even inspire them towards entering emerging and thriving tech fields in the future. Of course, this type of program is relatively small in scope, but it and others like it certainly have the potential to be a spark towards something much, much larger.

Our February sessions will focus on an introduction to technology tools, such as sensors. Registration for both age groups will open in January. To register a child or teen, please drop by the children’s desk or call us at (865) 982-0981, extension 114.

Drawing of red poinsettia with text Merry Christmas


Friends of the Library Book Discussion Group

By Vivian Selecman

The Book Discussion group, an official program of the Friends of the Library, currently has about 20 members. They meet in the board room of the library on the second Wednesday of every month from 10:15 to noon to discuss a book which all members have read during the month. Books are chosen by consensus in July of each year, and include a wonderful variety.

The books read this current year include Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan; The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-or crew and their quest for an Olympic gold medal; Fever, by Mary Beth Keane, the story of the woman who became known as Typhoid Mary and The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery, a novel set in Paris about the residents of an apartment hotel and the concierge who inconspicuously observes them all. For December, they are reading George Washington’s Secret Six, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager, a true story of George Washington’s spies during our Revolutionary War.

The membership of this group is very flexible, some people come once or twice and decide it is not for them and some have been members for fifteen years. There is one man in the group and he would welcome company. If you like to read and discuss thoughtful provocative books, please feel free to join us. The book for January is the story of a woman who never really wanted to be a mother and her teen age son, who murders 9 people at his school.


Volunteers Needed......

I have some very interesting and important opportunities for volunteers at the library so please read and contact the person if you’re interested.

Denise Robertson, 981-7912, is the chairperson of the Friends of the Library Membership Committee. She has expressed a need for someone to help her committee with data base entry for names, addresses, membership information, etc. in an Excel format. The data base is already set up but she needs help in maintaining and keeping it up to date. Denise really needs some help and so please call her if you want to know more about this project.

Jane Bennett, 681-0248, is the chairperson of the Friends of the Library Public Relations Committee. Jane is wanting some help with social media and other activities associated with advertising, publishing of newsletters, writing articles, etc. Please contact Jane for additional information.

Barbara Zurl, 977-5034, is the leader of the Ex Libris program. The Ex Libris team visits assisted living facilities, independent living facilities and churches with elderly programs and puts on programs for groups. Here is a web site for more information about the Ex Libris Program. Barbara is looking for additional volunteers to help in this wonderful and meaningful activity.

Jane Smith, 233-2546, manages the various floor mounted displays throughout the library. Jane is looking for some help in coordinating with various individuals who want to use the displays for a month at a time. The position is not for setting up or removing the displays but for contacting people and making sure that the displays are taken down and set up in a timely manner working with Jane.

These tasks are excellent examples of getting involved with different volunteer activities that are currently going on in the life of the library. I always try to encourage volunteers to perform multiple volunteer activities and rotate around so we can get a better picture of all the different things that volunteers are doing.

Thanks for volunteering
Larry Ackley
Volunteer Coordinator

Books for Soldiers Logo

Calendar Year 2015

by Vivian Selecman

An ongoing project of the Friends of the Library is the Books for Soldiers endeavor. From 2008 to 2013, when we had many troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, we sent 1,028 boxes containing 16,660 books to them. The last two years have seen a decrease in requests, but we have continued to honor those we can. One loyal volunteer has sent 120 boxes in the last few years. This year, she and three others have sent out 54 boxes to our troops overseas. This is not easy, as they must peruse a website for requests, choose books from our selection in the basement, pack the books and stand in line at the post office, then return to the library for reimbursement. These boxes contained 100 CD or DVD’s and 421 books. About $300 was spent for postage, all of which was collected in donation containers at the four book sales of the year.

We have received very few thank you letters this year. This may be due to postal office regulations that forbid us from including a letter as we used to, which included our address. But we know that our efforts are appreciated, as many thank you notes are posted to the website. The general public may check out this website at, but may not have access to troop requests or addresses. If anyone feels that they would like to be a part of this ongoing project, please contact Vivian Selecman at or 379-2568 for more information.

Upcoming Events

Thursday December 10 1:30 pm WBHS Concert Choir
Thursday December 10 6:30–8:00 pm Teen LEGO Robotics ages 12+
Must register at 982-0981 ext 114
Friday December 11 10:00 am Heritage MS Singers
Friday December 11 1:00 pm Eagleton Elementary Choir
Saturday December 12 2:00–4:00 pm Teens: Gaming Your Library
Tuesday December 16 6:00 pm Sensory Story Time(NEW) ages 3-5

See full calendar:


For Christmas: Thursday, Dec 24th - Sunday, Dec. 27th
For New Years: Thursday, Dec 31st - Friday, January 1st


The Friends approved two additional programs for the Library at the November 24 board meeting.

The first is $250 for Christmas Decorations which would include a tree, ornaments, poinsettias, and so forth. Check out the beautiful tree which has a gracious thank you plaque in front of it.

Library Christmas Tree

The second program is to match one-half of the Library Services and Technology Act Grant. This grant will be used to help keep our Library’s technology up to date.

Many thank you's go out to all the Blount County Friends of the Library for your generous support!

BCFOL Officers:
President: Diane D. Martin
Vice President: Denise Robertson
Treasurer: Betty Jo Fowler
Secretary: Bob Myers

Newsletter Editor: Jane Bennett
Newsletter Designer: Lynn McKean
Flyer Graphic Designer: Liz Menendez
Members at Large:
Lew Abramson, Larry Ackley, Jane Bennett,
Claudia Erwin, Ginnae Harley, Lisa Misosky,
Mary Moore, Dolores Philpot

Social Media Directors: Claudia Erwin, Sara French
Social Media Consultant Bob Myers
Proofreader: Diane Martin